WSOPE: Erik Seidel eyes nine, as Stojanovic and Ausmus claim first

Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel will return to the final table of Event 5 with a massive chip lead and sight of a ninth WSOP bracelet. (Thomas Keeling photo)

There was enormous promise ahead of Thursday at the 2013 World Series of Poker Europe. A handful of nearly men had their chance at redemption, a few established bosses had a chance to further consolidate their riches and there was a potential unique centurion in our midst.

Two bracelets would be prised from their glass cabinets to wrap around two lucky wrists, while the final side event would get underway before the Main Event begins on Saturday.

In short: it was a busy day.

Event 3 – €5,300 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max

Only two players returned to the charming small theatre of Casino Barriere d’Enghien-les-Bains at noon to play the very final stages of the €5,300 Mixed Max event, which had been spread over three days and tables of gradually reducing capacity.

Dan O’Brien, who had been beaten heads up for a bracelet in Cannes last year, had all the chips and all the expectations on him when he sat down opposite a little-known French player named Darko Stojanovic. But even a three-to-one chip lead wasn’t enough for O’Brien, who again came up short in the final match-up.

Stojanovic’s policy of betting big and forcing folds first eroded his chip deficit and then pushed O’Brien firmly on the back foot. Eventually, O’Brien called all in with A 5 and couldn’t catch Stojanovic’s 7 7.

Stojanovic promised his kids a trip to Euro Disney, while O’Brien turned to Twitter to express his disappointment but to keep everything in perspective. “Today went poorly, but I think feeling unlucky would be delusional,” he wrote. “Lucky to get here, lucky in life.”

Read Tim Fiorvanti’s full event report.

Event 4 – €1,650 Pot Limit Omaha
Jason Mercier had watched O’Brien’s final table from the bleachers, and O’Brien returned the compliment when it was Mercier’s turn to go bracelet hunting. Mercier was one of the short stacks from the final six of the €1,650 Pot Limit Omaha, but has bags of experience at the very highest tables and had the chance to win more than anybody, thanks to his unique cross-booking bet with Phil Ivey.

However, it was Mercier’s countryman Jeremy Ausmus who would end up prevailing, picking up a bracelet with his 10th World Series cash of the year. One of those came in Australia, another eight followed in Las Vegas in the summer (and he also had one at the National Championships in New Orleans). But this was the first time he could convert into a victory.

Ausmus beat Juha Helppi heads up after a marathon battle. Helppi has also now been to four World Series final tables without winning a bracelet.

Click through for a full event report.

Event 5 – €2,200 No Limit Hold’em

There were an even 100 players returning for Day 2 of Event 5 – €2,200 No Limit Hold’em and 100 was the number on everybody’s lips, but for a very different reason. Phil Hellmuth was still in the field, and if he could navigate his way through the bubble, he would reach a unique milestone: His 100th career WSOP cash.

Players fell by the wayside in characteristically hasty fashion and when Pascal Rabany was eliminated in 37th place, Hellmuth was suddenly in the money. Read a full recap of the anxious moments leading up to the landmark.

With the bubble burst, players set their sights on a new target: The final table. But it was now time for Hellmuth to bow out, having been shown very little respect (in a purely poker sense) by Ariel Celestino. Celestino forced Hellmuth to fold after putting in a huge bet looking at a board of 5 2 8 5 3. And then the Brazilian found sevens when Hellmuth was all in with sixes. The Poker Brat was out in 29th, his 100th cash worth €4,206.

The rail soon attracted some more players of the very highest calibre: Martin Jacobson (26th), Lee Markholt (25th), Jeff Rossiter (23rd), Jonathan Little (22nd), Daniel Weinman (19th), Angel Guillen (18th), Sam Greenwood (17th) and Jonathan Duhamel (16th) all perished short of the final table.

And then came the hand of the day, when Erik Seidel found kings at the same time Laurent Polito, another big stack, had queens. Seidel, an eight-time bracelet winner, will take the chip lead into the tournament’s final day.

His opponents will include Max Greenwood, Kevin Song and Roger Hairabedian, who already have a bracelet each, and Mike Watson, chasing Player of the Year. (There are only seven of them as Ariel Celestino was eliminated on the very last hand of the night.)

Final table line-up:

Erik Seidel, USA, 711,000
Kevin Song, USA, 442,000
Roger Hairabedian, France, 267,000
Matan Krakow, Israel, 204,000
Mike Watson, Canada, 156,000
Erwann Pecheux, France, 130,000
Max Greenwood, Canada, 113,000

Event 6 – €3,300 PLO Mixed Max

The last side event to kick off before the Main Event begins on Saturday was the €3,250 PLO Mixed Max, a kind of hybrid of two of the most popular events this week.

With so much else going on in the tournament room and casino theater, its Day 1, the eight-handed section, played out without much fanfare. However, among its 127 runners were some players showing their faces for the first time this week, including Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot, Sorel Mizzi, Daniel Alaei and Philipp Gruissem.

And it flew along. When they bagged for the night, there were 29 players left and the young Finn Aku Joentausta at the front of the pack.

Other notables: Raj Vohra: 110,000, Noah Schwartz: 67,400, Phil Laak: 62,700, Tommy Vedes: 54,500, Dan Shak: 47,900, Philipp Gruissem: 41,400, Stephen Chidwick: 37,000, Ludovic Lacay: 35,500, Matt Ashton: 35,300, Bruno Fitoussi: 33,600, Dan Kelly: 24,300, Barry Greenstein: 16,300, Barry Greenstein: 16,300, Shawn Buchanan: 11,400.

Coming up: The €2,200 No Limit Hold’em will play to its winner, with all eyes no doubt on Erik Seidel as he chases his ninth bracelet. But Mike Watson is also worth watching. He is currently third in the Bluff Player of the Year race, but breathing down the necks of Vanessa Selbst and Daniel Negreanu.

Meanwhile, the €3,300 PLO Mixed Max will play six-handed at the start of the day, then go heads up when they’re down to four players.

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